Writing Your Way Off the Mountain

In the Day Job I do a lot of work with Duke of Edinburgh groups, which often involves going up mountains. What the kids have to do as part of their planning is to write out in excruciating detail every step of their four-day journey, with compass bearings and rest-stops and calculations of time taken for height gained according to Naismith's Rule blah blah blah, and it's the most boring process imaginable. More often than not the details change, the kids ignore them, or - more often - they're forgotten altogether.

Most of the time spent up the mountain is sitting on my arse with a pair of binoculars watching my group going the wrong way, but quite a lot of the time I get to have a bit of a bimble over some peaks, and fairly often I get lost. Well, not lost lost in the sense that I have no idea where I am - more like momentarily geographically embarrassed, in the sense that for a moment the landscape makes absolutely no sense relative to the map in my hands. And it's fun, working it out and getting back on track, because I end up going on paths I wouldn't have considered otherwise.

The keen-eyed amongst you will have noticed a metaphor approaching over the horizon around now, about as subtle as a guy in a big fluorescent orange cagoule.

It's just that I'm at a point in the latest piece of silliness where suddenly I've realised that I have no idea how it fits into the three-page plot outline which I meticulously mapped out last Easter, or where to go next. I'm surrounded by scraps of paper covered with scribbles which are essentially me arguing with myself ('that idea sucks' 'no it doesn't, it's brilliant!' 'yeah, but what about...' and so on). And it's fun.

Fuck route cards, this isn't my Day Job.